ARLINGTON — Arlington head football coach Greg Dailer is seeing the game from a new perspective — literally.
After losing a non-conference game to Inglemoor in disappointing fashion just over three weeks ago, Dailer, who doubles as the team’s offensive coordinator, took the bold step of moving from the sidelines to the press box to coach the Eagles next game.
And it wasn’t just any old game for the Eagles. The season was on the line in a winner-to-quad district/loser-out game against Mariner. Despite being nervous about the move, Dailer helped guide the Eagles to a 35-21 victory.
Dailer had moved to the box after watching film of the Inglemoor game thinking that he could get a better look at the defensive formations and do a better job of calling plays.
“The idea came out after that game when I was watching that game film and I felt like on the film I saw several things that I wish I had seen on the field, but I just didn’t,” Dailer said. “In terms of what they were doing to us and what I could of taken advantage of, I feel like I missed some opportunities and I felt that way a couple of other times during the season.”
Still, even after seeing the Inglemoor film, moving to the booth was a decision that Dailer agonized over.
“I was very reluctant,” Dailer said. “I called Coach (Judd) Hunter first and talked to him about it. I have been on the sidelines for five years here and two at another place, so I have never been in the booth as a head coach. So yeah, I was worried, but the worry was for not. I have a great coaching staff and they manage the game well.”
The first drive of the Mariner game put Dailer’s mind at ease.
“After the first series, we drove right down and scored, I was just so glad to be up there,” Dailer said.
After the Mariner game, Dailer learned that he was right. He did have a better view from the box and he was able to make the adjustments he had been missing. The assistant coaches realized a change right away.
“He calls a way better game,” Hunter said. “He can see how the defense is lining up against him and then he checks to the best call against that. And he manages the game without distractions from the sidelines and players and coaches talking to him and he can see it easy and make a good decision.”
Despite the fact that Dailer is the head coach, Hunter said he sees the move in more simple terms.
“He’s our offensive coordinator and offensive coordinators can see it best from the booth,” Hunter said.
The first week was certainly a success, but surely the experiment wouldn’t work the following week when the Eagles traveled to Kent to face unbeaten and No. 4 ranked Kentwood.
Think again. The Eagles players accepted the challenge and with Dailer in the booth once again, Arlington pulled off this area’s biggest upset in recent memory, knocking off the Conquerors 21-14.
The Kentwood victory was enough for Dailer to make the move a permanent decision.
“As long as I am calling the plays I will do it from up top,” he said.
With the Eagles needing victories the past two weeks to extend their season and coming through, especially despite long odds against Kentwood, it could be easy to draw the conclusion that Dailer’s move to the booth and the wins are directly related. He cautions against taking it that far.
“I think that me being in the booth has helped for maybe 10 plays a game,” he said. “I think the big change the last two games has been the consistency in our defense and the ability to stop the run.”
It doesn’t get any easier for the Eagles, who earned, by upsetting Kentwood, the right to face another unbeaten, No. 3 ranked Camas.
So with defense improved and Dailer calling plays from the booth, will the Eagles continue to soar into the quarterfinals?
Dailer believes they can.
“If I don’t believe we can do it, it will never happen,” he said. “I think we have the ability to beat Camas.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.